Many people seeking refugee protection have fled warzones or escaped torture and persecution. We help people in crisis to get support for their trauma so that they can begin rebuilding their lives.
When we first met Badih* in 2020, he was homeless and destitute. His asylum claim had been refused by the Home Office, leaving him with no money, nowhere to live and no means to support himself.
Badih fled Afghanistan in 2010. As a result of the trauma he has experienced, he suffers from severe depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. He struggles to sleep at night and finds it difficult to build relationships or be around other people. When we first spoke with him, he wasn’t getting any treatment to help manage his mental health.
An adviser from our Destitute Asylum Seeker Service was assigned to help manage Badih’s case and speak up for his rights. Initial conversations were difficult. Badih was very upset and found it hard to talk about his situation. But with the encouragement and support of his adviser, he was gradually able to open up.
We immediately referred Badih to Safe In Scotland, who support people experiencing homelessness and asylum-related destitution. He was given a comfortable place to stay and provided with meals. Meanwhile, his adviser worked with lawyers to contact the Home Office on his behalf.
We arranged an urgent appointment with a homelessness GP, who referred him for specialist treatment at Anchor Psychological Trauma Service. Badih is now on medication to help manage his symptoms. He has been assigned a community psychiatric nurse who is on hand to support him when he feels overwhelmed.
We also arranged for Badih to meet with a housing lawyer who appealed to the Home Office for him to receive emergency accommodation and financial support. We worked with Badih and his legal advisers to make sure he understood what was happening at each step in the process.
Standing up for refugee rights
Due to his complex needs, Badih’s adviser recommended that the Home Office provide him with his own private living space. Instead, he was placed in shared accommodation and told by his landlord that he would soon be moved to Newcastle. This uncertainty and emotional upheaval had a devastating impact on Badih’s mental health and he became suicidal. With the help of his housing solicitor and mental health team, Badih’s adviser was able to stop the move. He is now in more suitable, self-contained accommodation where he feels safer and more comfortable.
By adopting a joined-up approach and working closely with the organisations involved in Badih’s health and legal care, we helped him to get off the streets and get the support he needs. He now attends regular mental health check-ins and is actively working on his recovery. Although there is a long way to go, Badih is making progress. He is learning to cope with the stresses of life in the asylum system by taking comfort in tasks like cooking.
* Badih’s name has been changed to protect his identity
Our Destitute Asylum Seeker Service provides people with comfort, care and expert advice at a very difficult time in their lives. Find out more about the support we offer.Destitution
This post was originally published on Scottish Refugee Council.